NWO has funded the research proposal A new era of room acoustics simulation software: from academic advances to a sustainable open source project and community. The project will start in 2022, headed by Maarten Hornikx and prof. Alexander Serebrenik. The research and utilization summary can be found below. Here is an interview about the awarded project.

Targeted open source platform and community.

Research Summary

The acoustic properties of indoor spaces are important regarding supporting or suppressing speech and music transmission, as well as regarding noise induced health effects. Being able to model room acoustic impulse responses of spaces is vital. Two main problems exist with the state of art in room acoustics modelling: (1) promising room acoustics modelling methods are not yet tailored for usage in real-life applications, (2) there is no (two-way) coupling between developments at academia and the methods that engineers use thereby hampering the innovation chain. The objectives of this project are threefold: (1) further development and ecological validation of room acoustics modelling methods, (2) development of a software prototype of these room acoustics modelling methods and (3) creation of a sustainable open-source (OS) community capable of continuing development and usage of the aforementioned software prototype beyond the timeframe of this project. As for (1), for the low frequencies the Discontinuous Galerkin (DG) method will be further developed towards room acoustics applications and for the high frequencies this will be done for the Diffusion Equation (DE) model. With the help of the users, the two developed methods will be benchmarked against detailed measurements in real rooms. As regards (2) an online platform will be constructed that consists of the OS implementation of DG and DE, as well as a prototype of a user interface. For (3), successful and failed transitions of software projects launched within academia to open-source will be studied. We will identify project aspects increasing or decreasing likelihood of successful transition, design tools and measures to monitor these aspects as well as interventions to influence them. The online platform and the community of software developers surrounding it will be used as a living lab to evaluate success of the interventions proposed. The project will lead to a new era of room acoustics solvers that are transparent (OS) and apply to the whole frequency range (DG + DE). Moreover, by creating an open-source community around the implementation, we provide an opportunity for both researchers and practitioners to use and contribute to the project, customizing it to their needs and increasing the likelihood of industrial take-up in the near future.             

Utilization Summary

Acoustic engineers in the field of architectural acoustics heavily rely on available experimental and calculation software to professionally carry out their work. In many cases, these engineers are consulted in projects of the design of new buildings, renovated buildings, or in particular projects where acoustics problems have to be tackled. As regards the calculation software, there are a few companies worldwide that have independently developed software based on geometrical acoustics methods. Engineers have been using these software over the past 3 decades, for which acoustic properties of materials in buildings are required input settings. These settings are typically handled by engineers based on their experience. Although this approach may lead to outcomes of acoustic parameters (as the reverberation time) that are comparable to measured results, it gets dangerous for (re)new(ed) buildings for which no measurements can be taken. Also, for the low frequency part, it is known that these geometrical acoustics methods are not applicable. The current project fills this gap by at one hand providing an OS high frequency method (Diffusion Equation model), as well as a more accurate method for the low frequencies (Discontinuous Galerkin method). Moreover, this project bridges the gap between academic developments and consultants, by an active collaboration that makes visible the academic possibilities to consultants and the practical problems to scientists. The sustainable software platform this project targets consists four types of community members: academic researchers (acoustics), OS software developers, Software companies, and acoustics consultants and university students. The user committee of this project is comprised of the three last member types. The involved Acoustics consultants/students participate in the validation phase of the developed methods, and mostly in the application phase. The representatives of the OS software developers and Software companies actively provide feedback on the developed platform and UI respectively. After the lifetime of this project, the newly developed simulation software should be ready for a take up by (spin-off) companies for a commercial development tailored to consultants, and a sustainable platform has been created where all community members meet to use and contribute room acoustic prediction methods.